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Shopping for Activewear – The #FitMom Edition

by Kerry O’Grady, Fitness Blogger

Before you read any further, I need to tell you something.

I do not have children.

Therefore, I am not a mother.

If A, then B, therefore C: I know nothing about kids.

In fact, the only things I know about kids is from the three and a half years I spent working at Parents, American Baby, and FamilyFun magazines. And, in complete transparency, I didn’t even write for those brands; I just tried to get moms to buy stuff (I worked in the marketing department).

Now, keep reading. Although I know nothing about kids, I know a lot about the struggles of getting back into shape after you’ve had them. My experience comes from being the absolute last of my best girlfriends to get married, and one of the few without an offspring. From the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with my loves post-baby(ies), I totally understand how time is limited and priorities have changed. I also get how shopping for workout clothes isn’t as fun as it used to be. This is especially true if you’ve taken a bit of a fitness hiatus.

But here’s the great news: There are workout clothes created for every body shape and size. And, when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you want to show off your workout wear to others (either on a walk, at the gym, or in a class).

Are you getting excited yet? Good. Because I do have some not-so-great news:

Getting excited about this means means you need to take the time to throw out those old college tees and sweats and do some shopping. When you’re a busy mom, both of these tasks may seem daunting, but I’m about to make your life a lot easier (you’re welcome).

Step 1. Know Your Body.

First thing’s first: You’re beautiful. And whether you’re a size two or 18, you’re perfect. All of us would love to change things, but when you’re in my #fitfam, you need to love who you are – right now – for this exercise. Second, grab a tape measure and size up your bust, butt, waist, and thigh area. Do not pull the tape too tight or you won’t get accurate measurements. Write them down and get the computer fired up.

Step 2. Research.

Before you hit Google search on “activewear” and get completely overwhelmed, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What kinds of workouts are you interested in? If you’re into low-impact (walking, yoga, Pilates, etc.), you’re going to need different clothes than if you’re looking for high-impact (bootcamp, dance cardio, running, etc.). For example, lace-up leggings may look cute on a mannequin, but if you’re hitting up a super high-paced class, they’ll just get in the way.
  2. What’s your personal style? Are you more of a simple gal (no loud graphics, simple colors) or a little more statement-oriented (big prints, etc.). Or, maybe you’re a bit of both (rad. I’m into it).
  3. How much do you (honestly) need? You don’t want to overbuy. This may sound strange to say, but you can easily go down the rabbit hole of “I want to buy everything because I’m starting to work out tomorrow!” and then once you get all your items, feel discouraged. Buy a few pieces, see how it goes, and then as a reward, buy more.
  4. Do you want to shop online, or in-store? This decision isn’t an easy one, but I always recommend in-store, as you’ll feel a lot more secure trying everything on before you purchase. Also, there are many amazing, helpful sales people who would love to assist you in finding the right pieces. Use them! If you decide online is easier, ensure you have your measurements handy and compare them to the sizing charts for the brand. If there are consumer reviews, read those too, as sometimes they have insight as to if pieces run true-to-size (social media is a great help for this, as well).

Step 3: Shop.

You want to be smart with your searches. It may be tempting to purchase the cheaper workout clothes, but trust me, you’re going to thank me for buying quality. You deserve it, you hot mama, you.  LululemonGapFitAthletaWarcoal, and Fabletics are my top picks because they have the most variety when it comes to size and style. Here’s what you want to look for:

  1. A sports bra in medium or high impact: Even if your workout is low-impact, you’re going to want the extra support. Trust me. You also want to avoid fancy strap designs, as they will cut into you and add to discomfort. Stick with thicker straps that either go naturally over the shoulder or simply cross in the back. Also, avoid white or light-colored sports bras; as they are less forgiving when it comes to sweat and overall security.
  2. Sweat-wicking fabrics: This fabric actually pulls moisture from your skin to the exterior so it can absorb more quickly. Most are polyester, as other fabrics don’t do the job as well. These pieces are worth the extra money you’ll pay, but it’s important you match your measurements with the sizing chart in-store or online because sweat-wicking activewear can feel a little tight. This is especially true for sweat-wicking leggings (which typically come in cropped or full-lenght).
  3. Breathable tops: Cotton, bamboo, spandex, nylon, and previously-mentioned polyester are your best friends. You don’t want tops to stick to you as you work out, or sweat through within the first 10 minutes. Look for roomy – but not oversized – tanks and tees that you can layer under with a cami or throw a shirt over as a first layer (#options).

Being a mom is hard work, and finding time for you; even harder. But, it’s important you take the time for your health (and sanity) so you can be your best self for your family. This time includes exercise, in any way you find it enjoyable. Just as importantly, it includes clothes that make you feel motivated to move.

PS:  if any of my besties are reading this, I plan on having my “I’m getting married to myself” party in a few years. I’ll be registered at all liquor stores in the tri-state area. 

Kerry O’Grady isn’t a trainer. In fact, she’s not even a fitness instructor. She is, however, a fitness class guru, having taken just about everything (once) in NYC. Obsessed with her #fitlife, she began @KerryLeeintheCityFit to encourage others to not only try different classes across the five boroughs, but inspire people from around the country to get up and move (and look fabulous doing it. Spoiler: No wearing 10-year-old T-shirts and pj pants to workout). Her brash honesty, personal struggles, heart-warming advice, and sarcastic personality makes her someone all active people can relate to, no matter if they’re just getting back into the workout game, or spend most of their paycheck at SoulCycle.

Need a little #fitspo in your life? Follow Kerry on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit and follow her blog on WordPress.